Building a revolutionary capability in Key West took time and determination, but defending its cohesion and integrity proved challenging. During the 1880s, Cuban tobacco workers still dominated the migratory stream, but many did not necessarily always share the same nationalist enthusiasm of those who landed a decade earlier. Labor grievances increasingly captured workers’ attention and threatened to displace what many considered anachronistic nationalist issues of the past. In addition, growing numbers of Spaniards seeking work in Key West proved equally ominous. They generally had little sympathy or were at best ambivalent about Cuban independence and like many Cuban workers subscribed to labor ideologies, especially anarchism, that rejected political movements. José D. Poyo turned his attention to preserving the community’s integrity and Cuban identity. He stepped up efforts to encourage the nationalist cause among Cuban workers while strenuously and sometimes violently challenging Spanish immigration to Key West.
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